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Napoleon once said: “Every corporal has a field marshal’s baton in his rucksack.” Nothing describes this ace hands-on hotelier and strategic thinker more aptly than these words. A highly respected figure in the Indian hotel industry, an alumnus of the Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development, Rattan Keswani has over 31 years of experience in managing high performance teams across multiple functions and geographies.
Currently he serves as the Chairman of Carnation Hotels Pvt. Ltd. — the hotel management arm of Lemon Tree Hotels, and looks into the management side of the business.
Keswani elaborates, “We are looking at growing the inventory of our various brands and finding opportunities for Lemon Tree Hotels internationally (wherever Indians travel). We aim to be the most preferred brand for owners, based on superior performance.”
He says modestly, “Learning from different geographies, demographics, brands and then amalgamating the best service standards of the luxury world with the financial and operational excellence of the mid-market arena at Carnation Hotels/Lemon Tree Hotels has been my constant endeavour.”
Keswani admits at having been inspired by some stalwarts and is grateful to them. “From Mr. P.R.S Oberoi of Oberoi Hotels to Patu Keswani now, they have shaped everything I have achieved and learnt so far.”
His success mantra is, ‘Seek to learn constantly, and find new mentors’. “I believe there is always more to learn if one has a thirst for knowledge.” Passionate about his work, he still gives it his all and is no mood to slow down.
Keswani joined the Lemon Tree Group in May 2012 as Chairman of Carnation Hotels Pvt. Ltd., a company he jointly promoted with Lemon Tree Hotels, as the management arm of the group. Prior to joining Lemon Tree Hotels, he served as the President of Trident Hotels (part of The Oberoi Group) and was responsible for the operations of 13 hotels across India. He also served as the President of Trident Hotels at EIH Ltd. In fact, he started his career with The Oberoi Mumbai in 1983.
Attrition, learning and development, and onslaught of the online companies are the challenges the hospitality industry will face, he predicts. Yet, he is happy that the future of the industry looks robust.
Always keen on sharing his knowledge, Keswani reiterates, “We are citizens of a larger hospitality world and our contribution is made by sharing our learnings with industry colleagues while seeking knowledge and ideas for improvement ourselves.”
His dream is to create true value for his employees, guests and stakeholders. “The brands must resonate with the various segments as a showcase of true Indianness, while displaying and delivering responsible, caring and truly customised experiences,” he states simply.
Even though in his long standing career he admits to not having achieved work-life balance, despite trying hard, Keswani’s favourite pastimes are sports, watching movies and reading.